Packaged Sweets Is Revolutionizing Packaged

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With packaged food industry as a whole evolving and maturing in the country in recent years, packaged sweets have come to register as an integral part of that process. In fact, the traditional popularity of sweets coupled with an increased consumer consciousness of hygiene and cleanliness has made sure that packaged sweets have acquired an extraordinary traction. The fact that sweets already constitute about 60 percent in terms of turnover of the sweet and namkeen industry means that sweets as a snack category has been a strong force in the country. As such, the popularity of sweets offered in a neat package itself in a way is giving a fillip to the packaged food industry in the country. In other words, packaged sweets are revolutionizing the packaged food industry. The authorities increasingly clamping down and are tightening norms around food labeling, general safety and hygiene. This is further serving the cause of packaged food industry.

The Emerging Packaged Food Landscape
Even before COVID-19 had ‘bared its fangs,'the Indian packaged food sector had been on a positive trajectory. For instance, last year it was reported how packaged food industry had recorded an impressive over 14 percent growth for April to August period. However, what is particularly notable is that this growth had occurred despite the wider consumption slowdown. In more recent times, while western snacks have been a high growth category, RTE is a high potential category. In terms of sales, rural and metro markets have been the best performers with tier I and rest of urban areas contributing almost similarly. Therefore, with a permanently large middle class with increasingly hectic schedules and busy lifestyles, the room for ready-to-serve packaged food can never be enough for the Indian market and there will always be room for growth.

The export market for traditional sweets is fairly giving a good boost to the packaged food industry

The Sheer Range Of Sweets Available Is A Hugely Motivating Factor
Representing both traditional and the modern, the Indian sweet market is characterized by an extraordinary array of offerings. From traditional milk based sweets and open mithais offered by unorganized and traditional sweet shops to sweets & confectionery products prepared by organized bakeries, further to specialized milk based products by dairy establishments to luxury mithai brands promoted by a new age confectioners to organic sweets by modern food brands, the range of sweets products available in the country is simply mind boggling.

Traditional Sweets Overwhelmingly Dominant
However, it is the traditional sweets which dominate the Indian market. In an estimate, the traditional sweets market is worth around $6 billion in the country of which packaged sweets market is about Rs.3500 crore. Based on dairy, fruits, cereals and pulses or different combinations of different ingredients, the traditional Indian sweets too boast of a range that is nearly incon ceivable. Add to this the diversity and the variety of sweets which have been nurtured as well as relished for ages in different regions of the country signifying regional specialties and tastes. In fact, the traditional sweets are not only a staple and indispensable part of festive and religious occasions as well as family functions within the country, but also retain their charm and appeal among the Indians and NRIs on foreign shores in sort of an emotional cultural bonding with the motherland. As such, the export market for traditional sweets (as also non traditional sweets) is fairly giving a good boost to the packaged food industry. In another impressive display, the confectionery market alone is estimated at $1.5 billion and has grown at a CAGR of over 12 percent for almost a decade. Another research estimates that confectionery and snack market is to grow by over 10 percent between 2020 and 2025. This huge array of items coupled with the arrival of an intensely hygiene-conscious generation of sweet lovers would definitely give a massive stimulus to the packaged food as well as the packaging industry in the country.

The Growing Packaging Industry It Self
At the same time, with increasing investment in food processing industries, rapid expansion of organized retail and rising exports market, the packaging industry itself has seen considerable momentum. The need for improvement in shelf life, and maintenance of the pace for production while upholding quality necessarily requires standardized quality packaging. With improvement in packaging methods and technologies such as the emergence of eco friendly packaging like biodegradable technologies, nanofabrication technologies and the shift from rigid to flexible packaging, the packaging industry is undergoing considerable upgrading and change. It has been forecast that the Indian food and beverage packaging market is set to cross $122 billion by 2025 from about $26 billion in 2019 at a CAGR of nearly 30 percent.

Government Tightening Norms
With food regulatory authorities increasingly raising the bar for quality and hygiene for sweet products and other food & snack items, the packaged food industry would receive further boost. Only in February this year it was reported how local sweet shops had to mandatorily display ‘best before date' and the date of manufacturing on non packaged and loose sweets kept in a container or tray, a more stringent norms than the existing labeling rules which required these details for pre packaged/prepacked sweets only. Such measures could only add to the push for packaged food industry. Significantly, prompted by sustainable environmental concerns, the government is also adopting policies to promote recyclable technologies for packaging.

Therefore, as COVID-19 has precipitated an all-out migration to packaged food away from open, loose and perceivably unhygienic food and snack culture, packaged sweets and confectionery category would impart the strongest push to the packaged food industry. Despite the recent societal and consumerist drive for healthy and nutritional snacking, the sweets and mithais would continue to form an indispensable part of the country's food culture which in turn would give a sustained thrust to the packaged food industry. Given that small packs of Rs.5/10 contribute to 70-80 percent of the sales in snacks category, this is encouraging. After all, guilty pleasures can be derived from small packs, since one can never really wish them away.